Pompey supporters pay their respect to club great Jimmy

The funeral of former Pompey footballer Jimmy Stephen at Portchester Crematorium

The funeral of former Pompey footballer Jimmy Stephen at Portchester Crematorium

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HE played a pivotal role in helping Pompey clinch the League One division title more than half a century ago.

Now family, friends and club supporters have gathered and said farewell to the club’s former full-back James Stephen – known to everyone as ‘Jimmy’ – at his funeral.

Jimmy Stephen

Jimmy Stephen

The sound of Amazing Grace echoed throughout Portchester Crematorium as the former full-back’s coffin was carried into the chapel.

Laid by Mr Stephen’s coffin near the altar were two wreaths depicting the crests of Portsmouth Football Club and Scotland, where he was born.

Mr Stephen’s son-in-law Chris Erskine, who led the tributes, said the 90-year-old was a true gentleman and loved by everyone he met.

‘For the past 30 years I saw Jim most weeks, often in a coffee house where we put the world to rights.

‘Though I never saw him play football I knew it was still a big interest to him after his playing career was over.

‘He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

‘He still had a twinkle in his eye and a sense of adventure even in his 80s.’

Mr Stephen was bought by Pompey from Bradford Park Avenue in 1949 for £15,000, a club record at the time.

He was part of the first team which won the Division One title during the 1949/1950 season.

He finished his career in non-league football with Yeovil Town and went on to live in Paulsgrove, Fratton, Portchester and Southsea.

He was then diagnosed with cancer and spent his final days at Acacia House nursing home in Horndean before passing away on November 5 at the age of 90. Former Pompey striker Ray Crawford, who played for the club between 1954 and 1957, turned out to pay his respects.

‘I used to watch Jimmy play when I was part of the club’s youth squad,’ he said.

‘I was fascinated by the way he trained. He had calf muscles like melons. He was a great passer of the ball and always had a firm handshake.

Former Pompey player Pat Neil read out a poem and a wake was held at Fratton Park. Mr Stephen’s daughter Lesley Stephen, of Drayton, said: ‘It was a lovely service and I was so pleased that so many people were able to make it.’

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